Print 45 comment(s) - last by lexluthermiest.. on Apr 4 at 6:51 AM

Ever evolving, the Conficker worm has gained the ability to download updates and malware from a select handful of randomly generated domains, the ability to spread over networks by hacking weak passwords, peer to peer communications between infected computers and transmission via USB. After 10 million+ infections, the worm will be updated again April 1.  (Source: Cool Circuit)
The worm that won't go away will get an upgrade on April 1

The Conficker worm has been wreaking havoc on internet users ever since it climbed out of its slimy hole in the internet's dark nether-regions back in 2008.  Now the worm is about to get even more dangerous when it receives its latest refresh in a series of periodic updates on April 1.  Security officials are bracing for the impact that the upgrade might have.

Either diabolical or brilliant, it's the Conficker worm's unique design that allowed it infect over 8 million business computers last year and scores of other individual users.  The worm, like many viruses, is regularly evolving thanks to periodic downloads.  However, the techniques it uses to do so are rather unique -- it cleverly creates thousands of false domains daily to throw off investigators. On the update day, it selects 500 correct domains out of the 50,000 candidates to download malware and updates from.

Pierre-Marc Bureau, a researcher at Eset says that this has helped the virus evolve from an initial novice-seeming threat targeting a flaw in Windows services into a large scale menace.  States Mr. Bureau, "From a high-level perspective, the 'A' variant gave the impression [of being] a 'test run'.  It had code that probably was not meant to be spread globally. For example, it was checking for the presence of an Ukrainian keyboard or Ukrainian IP before infecting a system."

The first run also contained a false lead -- it tried to download and execute a file called loadav.exe.  This led security research to believe it was just one of a pack of malware programs trying to peddle fake antivirus software.  It turned out to be a red herring -- the file was never uploaded and the next generation did away with the feature.

In the second version, the worm continued to spread through Windows Services on unpatched machines.  However, the update also granted it the power to spread over network shares by trying to log in autonomously into network machines with weak passwords.  It also gained the ability to load itself onto USB sticks connected to infected machines, gaining another means of transmission.  The scanning speed for machines to infect was greatly optimized -- in short the worm had become a real big problem.

Finally, the worm got its third update, becoming the Downadup virus as it’s now known.  The latest version added peer-to-peer communication between infected systems.  It also added new domain-generation algorithms to help it disguise where it was receiving its updates from.

At this point the worm is already a full scale threat, and there's no telling what might happen with the next update.  Describes Mr. Bureau, "During the last week, 3.88 percent of our users have been attacked by Conficker, either because they accessed an infected device or by a network attack.  The percentage is very high and shows that a high number of computers are presently infected and that the worm is still spreading."

Estimates of the number infected machines vary greatly, but most experts agree that over 10 million computers, largely in the business sector were compromised last year.  The number is large enough that Microsoft, which already has offered a bounty for the worm's writers, and AOL are teaming up to trying to weed out the domains it uses.  However, they face an uphill battle due to the vast number of domains the worm generates.  And law enforcement and security experts are no closer to having any clue what individual or individuals are writing the Conficker code.

Meanwhile the Conficker continues to spread and get smarter.  Its actions leave little doubt in the security community -- it's creating an army of infected machines, one that could do serious damage if unleashed.

Adriel Desautels, CTO of Netragard states, "I don't think that the threat comes from the worm itself, it comes from the people that are in control of the mass of Conficker-infected systems.  Those people have an immensely powerful weapon at their disposal, and that weapon threatens all of us."

April 1 will see the attacks taken to the next level -- and it’s anyone's guess what capabilities it might gain.

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And people keep telling me to get SP2....
By goku on 3/27/2009 9:16:56 PM , Rating: -1
"Yeah you need SP2 otherwise your machine WILL DIE", "what are you retarded, why aren't you running SP2?"YOU NEED TO INSTALL SP2!"

I've been constantly told to install SP2 because if I don't, hell will break loose, even software developers for some retarded reason have required it for their programs to install despite there being no fundamental reason to require it other than being stupid. But no, I've resisted and refuse to install SP2 and it has been nearly 5 years since it has been released and I've still not installed it. System works fine, I have no Anti Virus software running on this machine (have it on my file server), running Firefox 1.07, I've had this machine scanned remotely by other machines on my network with no infection detected, ever. I've run rootkit revealer, hijackthis and other such utilities but and rarely does anything come up but when it does, I remove it manually, all by myself.

Why have I gone this route? Because Anti Virus software is generally useless due to their sporatic detection of viruses and waiting for Microsoft's patches is only useful on the most serious of holes and so at the end of the day, it is me who has to detect the viruses and remove them myself. I've had this machine install since Oct 2004 and have yet to reformat, I've had probably 5 infections, all of which I've successfully (albiet time consuming) removed myself simply because virus detection software is useless.

So because of stupid shit like this, where large numbers of "up to date" machines or at least those with SP2+ are being infected, yet my SP1 machine is running fine I have to ask myself, what's the point?

SP2 = Flu Vaccination

You don't need either of them because if you're going to get infected, you're going to get infected despite having the patch/vaccination.

RE: And people keep telling me to get SP2....
By vistaisfine on 3/28/2009 1:14:32 AM , Rating: 2
a vaccination is a dud virus injected into the body to create antibodies that your immune system will remember so when you DO get infected with the flu you recover faster.

being laid out for a full week because you didnt get your shot is not gonna make your boss happy.


whats the point of running scans from other computers and creating overhead on your network? oh so you can be a big man and claim you dont need antivirus?

just because you beat around the bush and essentially still scan for viruses does not give you the authority to come to the defense of others who don't use antivirus at all simply because those people are naive.

RE: And people keep telling me to get SP2....
By TomCorelis on 3/28/2009 2:53:16 PM , Rating: 3
There are *still* Windows XP SP2 holdouts?

By lexluthermiester on 3/28/2009 3:37:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, there are. Sad isn't it?

SP3 is perfectly safe and when you disable many of the services that don't need to be running and set yourself up with a GOOD firewall, this little bugger has little chance of getting into a system through a network connection. Now USB drives are another story...

And for all you Vista/Win7/64bit OS users out there, you are just as open to this threat as anyone else...

RE: And people keep telling me to get SP2....
By goku on 3/29/2009 10:39:07 AM , Rating: 1
Did you ever consider for a SECOND, why people don't like XP, Vista or even any of their service packs due to their increase in resource usage AND program compatibility? I didn't think so.

By Spuke on 4/1/2009 7:06:24 PM , Rating: 2
With today's hardware, I, personally, don't notice. The only applications that tax my hardware are CAD apps and games. Maybe it's your setup.

By lexluthermiester on 4/4/2009 6:44:26 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I did consider those issues. And if you don't like XP or Vista, then you most likely are using OSX or some flavor of Linux/BSD. But for those of us who like and use XP, SP3 has been good. As for Vista, I'm not a fan. Windows 7 however, is shaping up very nicely!

RE: And people keep telling me to get SP2....
By DASQ on 3/30/2009 11:22:09 AM , Rating: 2
SP3 is causing a lot of 'no boots' for people. The solution is literally to uninstall SP3. I see it a little too often here on this campus, it's made me hesitant to suggest SP3 in any situation.

By lexluthermiester on 4/4/2009 6:51:50 AM , Rating: 2
I have installed SP3 on XP based systems over 100 times and never encountered this no boot situation. But then again, I have been using the version of SP3 that is known to be stable. The no boot issue, from what I've read seems to be occurring only in limited number of situations.

But hey, if you are having that issue, then just do a fresh install using a disc that has had the pack slip-streamed in with an app like n-lite or something... That's what I do, and it works every time.

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